Scenic Parks to Visit near Princeton NJ

While there are plenty of things to do in Princeton to keep active, staying active doesn’t always have to be a whole hoopla. And with so many New Jersey parks to consider, plus some super scenic areas near Princeton University—staying active can be as easy as a walk in the park. That said, here are just a few New Jersey area parks to consider.

Bernadette Morales Nature Preserve


Located in Flemington, this park features a 52-acre tract that was donated in 1972 by Mary & Edwin Large Jr. With a full parking lot and extra parking nearby on busier days, this park is easy to access and offers paths that could have you walking for a cool hour or two if you try to connect them all. You’ll also find a fair amount of fellow hikers, joggers, and people walking their dogs.


The park itself was named after Bernadette (“Bunny”) Morales, a popular local teacher in the district. Some of the paths are unpaved, but many are weathered over enough to make it simple to follow the trails, though some recommend scoping out a map beforehand. Overall, it’s a quiet spot where you can catch a few glimpses of wildflowers.


If you are looking for retirement communities in the Princeton area, Hunterdon Creekside is less than a ten-minute drive away. It offers new home construction for 55+ active adults who are looking for flexible floor plans and personalization options.


Autumn Hill Reservation


A nature reserve with basic paths through a habitat of native geology, vegetation & woodland animals—Autumn Hill feels like so much more than a park. The park contains 78 wooded acres, with about 1.8 miles of well-maintained trails. But what makes Autumn Hill unique is the amount of solitude that one can find among old stone walls, relics of the past that have been taken over by nature, and a surprising amount of wildlife. There are also opportunities to rest along the way, by the way of benches, old logs, and a couple of picnic tables.


The park lies at the far north-eastern corner of Princeton, just a short drive away from Princeton University. It was acquired by Princeton Township’s Open Space Commission in the late 1960s.


Becker-Riker-Dinosaur Park

Really three New Jersey parks that are interconnected—this area in Roseland, NJ is a perfect option for someone who’s looking to explore. Starting with Becker Park, a 146.73-acre tract in Livingston and Roseland, that’s located just off Eagle Rock Avenue. Once owned by August Becker, who bought it to start a dairy farm in 1880, this land now makes up about half of Becker Park. Interesting to note that between 1940 and 1972, some of this area was also used to host a small railroad called the Centerville and Southwestern. Though the railroad was later moved, you can still see it today at the Phillipsburg Railroad Historians Museum in Phillipsburg, NJ.


There are three options for trails at Becker, the first following the road to the top of the hill. The second takes a turn to the right, just before the bridge, and goes up through the forest. As the trail continues, there is a right split that leads towards Walter Kidde Dinosaur Park—a 16-acre tract acquired in 1970 that is also the site to the smallest dinosaur tracks ever found. Although there isn’t full public access, sticking to the trail will lead you to a lookout before it curves and heads back to the original trail.


Last up is Riker Hill Art Park, which you access by going left at the fork mentioned above. From there, staff trail guides you towards the former United States Missile Tracking Base in Livingston, a 42-acre complex now known as Riker Hill Art Park—now home to almost 40 artists studios who work in glass, sculpture, pottery, and more.


In terms of retirement communities in the Princeton area, all three parks are a quick drive from local communities, meaning it is always easy to visit.


Though there are plenty of things for seniors to do in Princeton, the area’s parks offer up some stiff competition—even against the scenic views of some of Princeton University’s finest architecture, so be sure to visit one of these scenic New Jersey parks today.


Contributed to The 55+ Society

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Published  11.11.21 

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